Thursday, September 13, 2012

Come here, my pretty….

The Internet is like the ultimate lure and containment trap.

First, you have the lure. Generally, the lure you’d use would depend on what you were hoping to catch – certain fish respond better to certain bait. But the Internet is so massive it has no need to limit itself – there are YouTube clips of idiots falling off high places, endless discussions about esoteric points in obscure sci-fi movies, make-up tutorials, visual homages to Edward Cullen’s supposed magnificence, and cat videos. If you have an interest, someone online has put up a page going into way more detail about it than you ever imagined possible.

Once they have you drawn in, they start to disorient you. Sometimes the initial site can do this – message boards are both great for long conversations that will suck up hours without you realizing it – but the real power is in the links. Like a little trail of electronic breadcrumbs, they lead you deeper and deeper into the maze of websites full of distracting information and shiny pictures. Hours later, you have no memory of what you had initially meant to do or what is going on in the world outside of the computer screen. Worse, you don’t want to leave the magic computer screen, because it’s constantly rewarding you with some new factoid or bright spangly every few clicks. You’re happy in the trap, and wouldn’t leave if you could.

The question is, who’s trapping us? The simple answer is corporations, but your average business executive just isn’t that clever. My vote is our future alien overlords.

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